|Reading and math decline in ‘Nation’s Report Card’ |
Even before the pandemic disrupted schools across the U.S., test scores in both reading and math declined for 13-year-old students, the first drop registered in a half century in testing meant to measure student proficiency over time. Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, said she was surprised to see an absolute decline. “I had to ask the question again of my staff. `Are you sure?' I asked them to go back and check,” she said. The National Assessment of Educational Progress for decades has been measuring student performance in a variety of academic subjects to chart progress, or lack thereof, and dubbing the data the “Nation’s Report Card.” The results, based on a nationally representative sample of children, compared scores of 9- and 13-year-olds to those in the early 1970s and in 2012. Student scores remained, across the board, higher than they were a half century ago. But the new results showed overall declines for 13-year-olds since 2012, with drops concentrated among the lowest-performing students. Similar drops have also been registered on a separate, similar assessment designed to measure short-term trends, with those scores declining for those at the academic bottom and rising for those at the top. “This is more discouraging news about our students who are struggling to learn,” Carr said. “Our struggling students are struggling more than they ever have before.” The new report finds scores have fallen for Black and Hispanic students since 2012 and remain flat for White children, widening the racial achievement gap. This year also revealed a gender gap, as nine-year-old boys’ math scores stayed steady while girls’ scores fell compared to 2012.